Canadian Systems of Power

About the Series

Date(s): Wednesdays, May 18 to June 15, 2022
Time: 9:30 to 11:15 am
Place:  Zoom
Price: $59 (plus HST)

Why do Canada's governing institutions concentrate power in some areas while decentralizing it in others? What is NATO and is it relevant today? Why was the only MRNA vaccine in Canada sidelined in favour of foreign-produced vaccines? How do Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination fit into Canadian systems of democracy? And what are Canada’s roles and responsibilities in an international system that increasingly seems less hospitable to our values?

Beginning May 18, this series will explore Canadian systems of power and the multitude of issues and challenges associated with these systems.

Europe Returns to War: NATO, Russia, and the Prospects for Peace

Dr. Timothy Sayle

Dr. Timothy Sayle
Wednesday, May 18, 2022

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, interstate war has returned to Europe. What are the implications for the world? What choices does the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) face as the war continues? And what about when the war ends? Dr. Timothy Andrews Sayle will discuss the difficult geopolitical problems and choices facing us as we try to understand the origins and course of the war and what might happen next. He will explain how the choices made by NATO and the NATO allies, including Canada, will shape the prospects for peace in Europe far into the future.

Dr. Timothy Andrews Sayle is Assistant Professor of History and Director of the International Relations Program at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order (Cornell, 2019). He has co-edited three volumes with Jeffrey A. Engel, Hal Brands, and William Inboden titled The Last Card: Inside George W. Bush’s Decision to Surge in Iraq (Cornell, 2019); with Susan Colbourn, The Nuclear North: Histories of Canada in the Atomic Age (University of British Columbia Press, 2020)l and with Sergey Radchenko and Christian Ostermann, NATO in the Cold War and After: Contested Histories and Future Directions (Routledge, 2021).

Covid-19 Vaccines and Public Choice Theory

Dr. Lydia Miljan

Dr. Lydia Miljan
Wednesday, May 25, 2022

During the Covid-19 pandemic misinformation seemed almost as difficult to flatten as the virus itself. Vaccine hesitancy became a wedge issue during the federal election campaign and misinformation surrounding Canada’s vaccine procurement and our country’s ability to produce a home-grown MRNA candidate spread. In this talk, Dr. Lydia Miljan will tell the story of how the only MRNA vaccine in Canada was sidelined in favour of foreign-produced vaccines, and how within Canada, non-MRNA candidates were prioritized. Using the lens of public choice theory, she will argue that political leaders were more focused on electoral success than on the public good in their procurement strategy for Covid-19 vaccines.

Dr. Lydia Miljan is Professor of Political Science, with a focus on Canadian public policy. She has been on the faculty at the University of Windsor since 2001. Dr. Miljan completed her PhD at the University of Calgary. Her research interests include political communication; public policy; and the electoral process. She has organized conferences and workshops with diverse topics ranging from Canadian public policy to zombie studies. She is a highly sought-after media commentator having been interviewed on local and national television, radio, and newspapers.

Indigenous Sovereignty & Canadian Systems of Democracy


Samantha Craig-Curnow
Wednesday, June 1, 2022

This section will be updated shortly.

The Return of History: In Conversation with Dr. Jennifer Welsh

Dr. Jennifer Welsh

Dr. Jennifer Welsh
Wednesday, June 8, 2022

In his famous 1989 essay, American political commentator Francis Fukuyama argued that the rise of Western liberal democracy symbolized a transition towards a more peaceful world and an end to hundreds of years of conflict. However, in recent years the world has witnessed terrorism, war, deepening economic inequality, and mass numbers of refugees and displaced persons. Were Fukuyama’s claims about Western liberal democracy and world peace inaccurate? How durable are international norms and law, such as international humanitarian law or 'responsibility to protect’, in a context of democratic backsliding and increased geopolitical rivalry? And what are Canada’s roles and responsibilities in an international system that increasingly seems less hospitable to our values? Dr. Welsh will reflect on these important questions through a fireside discussion.

Professor Jennifer Welsh is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance and Security at McGill University. She was previously Professor in International Relations at the University of Oxford where she co-founded the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict. From 2013-2016, she served as the Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, on the Responsibility to Protect. She is the author, co-author, and editor of several books and articles on humanitarian intervention and international relations. Her most recent books include The Return of History: Conflict, Migration and Geopolitics in the 21st century (2016), which was based on her CBC Massey Lectures, and The Responsibility to Prevent: Overcoming the Challenges of Atrocity Prevention (2015).

The Histories and Institutions of Power in Canada

Dr. Toby Rollo
Dr. Toby Rollo
Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The history of Canada is a story of multiple cultural, linguistic, and national groups attempting to coexist. But how do these differences come together to create Canadian political culture? In this talk, Dr. Toby Rollo will look at how Canadian institutions developed to reconcile all those competing interests and the many disparate ideas about how Canadians ought to be governed. He will explore Canada’s unique brands of political ideology and political culture, as well as some of the reasons why our governing institutions tend to concentrate power in some areas while decentralizing it in others. Finally, he will examine the democratic potential – along with many of the obstacles to democracy – that can be identified in the structures of Canadian politics.

Dr. Toby Rollo is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Lakehead University where he researches and teaches on Canadian politics and political theory. Dr. Rollo’s research centres on the democratic promises and failures of modern political institutions, specifically the exclusion of Indigenous peoples, women, and children. His work has been published in numerous academic journals including Canadian Journal of Political Science, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Political Theory, Contemporary Political Theory, European Journal of Political Theory, Settler Colonial Studies, and the Journal of Black Studies.

How to Buy Tickets

This session of Third Age Learning Lakehead will be delivered via Zoom. Tickets for the series are $59 plus HST.

Register today